Cable dispute heading to court Newport Commons owner says residents will have a choice

By on August 24, 2011

By: STEPHEN SEEBER Record Express Staff, Staff Writer

The ongoing debate over TV and Internet service in Newport Commons will continue in Lancaster County court next Monday.

Blue Ridge Communications, the current cable provider for residents in the Warwick Township apartment complex, confirmed the Aug. 29, 2 p.m. hearing. Those who want to testify should show up at the courthouse in Lancaster at 1:45 p.m.

"Apparently, things have taken kind of a challenging turn, and we’re definitely going to have to go to court," said a Blue Ridge representative Tuesday.

Two weeks ago, the Record Express reported that residents of the complex were upset because management was forcing them to switch their TV and Internet service from Blue Ridge to Windstream (formerly D&E) starting Sept. 6, which would cause them to lose some programming, including daily Philadelphia Phillies coverage on Comcast Sportsnet.

Mike Glass, owner of the development, said that’s not the case. On Tuesday, he told the Record Express that residents will have a choice, and he’s disappointed that the problem has reached this point.

"Blue Ridge has chosen to take an extremely aggressive approach to resolving this matter," said Glass, "and it has been counterproductive and not appreciated."

Glass, a partner in Dana Glass Properties, which manages Newport Commons, pointed out that he has "done business in this community for well over a decade and has never encountered the kind of attitude demonstrated by the management of Blue Ridge Cable, who attempted to provide unauthorized, unapproved temporary wiring to Newport Commons on Monday of this week while discussions were going on to try to resolve this matter to the satisfaction of all interested parties."

The Blue Ridge workers who were on the private property Monday were told to leave, and it appears that the dispute will now be settled in court.

Joe Lorah, of Blue Ridge’s marketing department, said workers were under the impression that they were allowed on the property. He said they left as soon as they were asked by management.

"It was a misunderstanding," he said.

"We understand that Blue Ridge Cable may have certain rights under the law to provide service to residents at Newport Commons, and we will follow the law to the letter," Glass said.

While Glass could not confirm that the court date was definite, he did say that his firm’s legal counsel is hard at work. He said his number one concern at this point is to make sure residents of Newport Commons understand that they can have a choice when it comes to their TV service provider.

"We want to communicate with our residents," he said. "There’s a lot of misinformation floating around, and we don’t want to add fuel to the fire. The last thing I would want to do is disenfranchise our residents."

Glass said he is planning a private town hall meeting between Newport Commons’ residents and development management to clarify concerns.

Glass also pointed out that Newport Commons is not a publicly-owned property and Blue Ridge cannot simply do whatever it wants. He said he worked out a deal with Windstream to provide service to his tenants because, based on his research, Windstream offered a better deal. The big strike against the arrangement, for some, is the lack of Phillies coverage through Comcast Sportsnet, a channel not carried by Windstream. Residents would also lose local sports and news coverage on channel 11.

He also pointed out that the Windstream service is a free two-month trial, and if residents don’t like it they can switch back to Blue Ridge, providing Blue Ridge comes up with a permanent solution to the way it physically connects to the properties. This, according to Glass, will require Blue Ridge to meet certain development codes which would have to be approved by a licensed engineer.

Lorah said that Blue Ridge will work with Glass to provide service to customers, but said that having to switch services twice in a two-month period is an inconvenience.

The main objective, Lorah added, is to give residents the freedom to choose their provider.

It appears that Newport Commons has the same objective, but for now it appears a court date is unavoidable. More NEWPORT COMMONS, page A11

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